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6 Ways to Wow With One Color Printing for Creatives

How do you make your work stand out by using one-color printing today when everything from phone screens to packaging is rendered in glorious full color? It’s simple. By concentrating the rest of your budget and creativity on one or more of the following six key areas, you’re guaranteed to leave your competition in the shade. (As always, be sure to consult with your print service provider before you begin designing so you understand both what’s possible to achieve on your budget and how long it will take to complete.)

1. Foil.

Its shimmer not only gets your work noticed and enhances its perceived value, but foil also comes in a variety of different colors, too. Use it instead of ink entirely or, for truly stunning effects, use a digital foiling technique such as Scodix or sleeking in combination with one-ink printing. (Because it’s a digital process, this also enables you to add a unique greeting, message, or artwork to each piece, similar to the way digital presses allow you to take advantage of “variable data printing.”)

Caption: An example of foil used instead of ink. Image source
2. Different textured paper for printing.

If you can imagine a specific texture, chances are your printer can track it down in substrate form. You’ll find everything from woodgrain to laid, metallics to translucents… even paper that looks (and feels) like human skin!

Caption: Invitation letterpress printed on Gmund Wood paper. Image source
3. Spot UV or raised spot UV (aka spot varnish).

Strategic application of clear ink to specific parts of your design allows you to make them stand out more – a particularly effective way to enhance a company’s logo or the title of a publication.

Caption: An example of spot UV (aka spot varnish). Image source
4. Die-cutting.

Instantly grab attention by giving your piece a unique shape. You can also create a “window” in the cover of your folded sheet to either tease an illustration printed on the inside, or to tantalize by allowing the product inside your packaging to be glimpsed from without.

Caption: The combination of one color printing and die-cutting can be stunning. Image source
5. Embossing.

Though potentially the most expensive alternative to 4-color printing (depending on the type of die used and the amount of detail included therein), embossing/debossing is also arguably the most effective as it engages both sight and touch – something that research strongly suggests makes a deeper impression on the audience experiencing it.

Caption: Embossing is a delight for the fingertips as well as the eyes. Image source
6. Colored paper.

Choose a paper in an intense color, print some sharp type and graphics on top in black ink, and your work will instantly stand out more. Or print another hue on top of a colored stock for even greater impact. This works particularly well on a digital press, where the press operator can easily make adjustments until you get just the effect you’re looking for, all without the added time and expense of offset makeready.

Caption: Combining colored stock with one-color printing. Image source
So why make the color of your inks do all the heavy lifting when there are so many other attention-grabbing, and more tactilely engaging, ways to bring your work to life?

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